For ABI Research this growth is part of a whole trend of Location-Enabled Services (LES) that includes location-based social networking (Facebook Places), micro-blogging (Twitter), messaging, calendars, advertising, all of them driven by standards such as the W3C’s geo-location API.
According to practice director Dominique Bonte, “The location industry is entering a new era. Instead of offering separate applications providing specific stand-alone LBS services, location is increasingly positioned as an enabler of existing mobile services.
"The transparent use of location results in new business and indirect monetization models, web/widget and open source development environments, changing value and supply chains, the adoption of alternative positioning technologies, new content sourcing paradigms, and innovative interfaces (Augmented Reality).”
App or Browser
This large availability of geo-browsers offers interesting opportunities for location services that would prefer to skip the “app trend” and the related operating system fragmentation to favor browser-based experiences.
Obviously monetization and discovery could be important challenges, but many applications do not require a dedicated application and developing once to run on 1.7 million mobile devices and computers has a real appeal.
ABI Research also warns about privacy challenges. “Doubts remain about the extent to which location data will be stored, analyzed, and used for other purposes such as targeted advertising without the user’s consent, and how well this data is protected from unauthorized access by rogue parties.”